The Gloucestershire Wassail (Wassail, Wassail!) — brass quintet

The Gloucestershire Wassail is one of many traditional wassails (festive songs, carols) associated with the centuries-old tradition of wassailing. This arrangement of a sprightly West-English traditional song features the voices of the brass quintet in various combinations, keys, and harmonizations, echoing the strains of wassail-singers across time and place.

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The Gloucestershire Wassail is one of many traditional wassails (festive songs, carols) associated with the centuries-old tradition of wassailing. In the West of England from where this particular wassail comes, groups of people would go door to door, singing and offering a drink of mulled cider from a large, decorated bowl (the wassail bowl) in exchange for other drinks, food, and gifts.

The custom of sharing the wassail bowl is supposedly of Saxon origin, a drinking ritual dating to the Middle Ages and derived from one of the observances of the Feast of Yule. Today it is associated with Christmas-tide, the twelve days from December 25 to January 5. The word “wassail” itself comes from an Anglo-Saxon greeting (Middle English “waes hael”) meaning “be thou hale” or “be in good health.”

This arrangement of a sprightly West-English traditional song features the voices of the brass quintet in various combinations, keys, and harmonizations, echoing the strains of wassailers (wassail-singers) across time and place.

©2019 Todd Marchand / Con Spirito Music

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